The 2017 RB Sweet 16: (5) D’Onta Foreman vs (12) Joe Williams
The RotoViz Running Back Prospect Sweet 16 Tournament matches the top incoming prospects in a head-to-head March Madness style format. Various RotoViz writers break down each match-up with the winner moving on to the next round.
(5) D’Onta Foreman vs (12) Joe Williams
Foreman was the definition of a workhorse in 2017. He carried the ball close to 30 times per game and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. We did not get to see him perform at the combine. Williams was outstanding at the Combine, however, running a 4.41 forty, and posting an explosion score of 160. He was also a workhorse. Neither player was particularly active in the passing game.
Matthew Freedman – Joe Williams: I’m a traditionalist — I like big backs who rush for a ton of yards — so I like Foreman, but Williams is just so enticing. He’s old and in possession of a weird narrative — “Why did he go to Hargrave Military Academy before attending UConn? Why did he leave UConn? Why did he retire as a senior and then return?” — but that just means that he’ll be cheaper than he should be. He’ll be 24 as a rookie — yikes! — but so was Alfred Morris, LeGarrette Blount, and a number of other running backs who’ve had NFL success. He’s got good size, he blazed a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the combine, and he’s been productive when he’s been the lead back, both at Utah and ASA College in New York as an All-American junior college sophomore. Williams is likely to be cheap, but his upside is high.
Anthony Amico – Joe Williams: Williams only caught nine passes in his final season, but dominated on the ground for the Utes. He also ran a 4.41 at 210 pounds and posted a 160 explosion score. Sure, he isn’t super agile, but his profile doesn’t suggest that he would be. Especially considering the massive discount that he should come at to Foreman, I’m favoring Williams here.
RotoDoc – Joe Williams: Williams has both a Workhorse Metric and nQBDR of 86.7, which is quite good. Add in his 4.41 at 210 pounds, and a 125-inch broad jump, and he falls in to the elite node of Kevin Cole’s RB regression tree. There’s a lot to like, despite his age.
Blair Andrews – D’Onta Foreman: Everyone picking Williams here has to try to explain away his red flags (age, receiving ability, commitment to football—is he going to retire after his rookie season?). Why not just pick the other guy? I for one am still a Foreman believer. He accounted for about 88 percent of his team’s non-QB rushing yards, and about 92 percent of their non-QB rushing TDs. A foot injury kept him from running at the combine. But even if we assume the worst-case scenario in terms of speed and agility (say, a 4.7 forty and 7.5 three-cone), he still scores a 65 in the RB Prospect Lab. Not elite, but very good. For comparison, Williams only scores a 51. I’m going with the bigger, younger, more productive back.
Matt Wispe – D’Onta Foreman: Foreman averaged over 100 yards per game for his career and over 180 during his final season (along with more the one TD per game). Foreman is the bigger back with a higher draft stock. I’m betting on opportunity, and he appears poised to earn plenty.
Scott Smith – D’Onta Foreman: Foreman takes on way too much criticism for his lack of receptions. While detractors are correct in their assessment of this part of his game, it’s hard to overlook the rushing production. Not all RBs are perfect, but Foreman put up 6.3 yards per carry and over 184 yards per game last year. His Box Score Scout comps pop up big names like Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Jordan Howard and Derrick Henry. On the low side comps like Beanie Wells and Shonn Green really aren’t that bad. While Foreman may never be a PPR dynamo, there is a place in offenses for a player with his production and size. Foreman would probably be getting more love in this match up had he been able to run at the combine. It would take entirely too much imaginative work on my part to come up with a scenario where I could justify Williams moving on in this match up. Give me Foreman.
Heith Krueger – Joe Williams: This one is very close. Both only put up significant rushing production in their final year at college. Foreman (6 feet, 233 pounds) is definitely much larger than Williams (5 feet 11 inches, 210 pounds), but the rest of his physical measurables remain a mystery, as he was unable to perform at the combine. On the other hand, Joe Williams really impressed. Williams posted a 4.43 40 time, a 35-inch vertical jump, and a 127-inch broad jump. Neither has displayed significant receiving capability in college. Thus, I’m left to make a decision, and I’m going to go with the above average combine numbers in Williams.
Shawn Siegele – D’Onta Foreman: Foreman was an absolute monster in 2016 and has an elite RB Prospect Lab score as a result. He’ll be inexpensive relative to size/production in rookie drafts, which easily balances his pass-catching risk.
Jordan Hoover – D’Onta Foreman: Foreman was one prospect I really wanted to see at the combine. He declined all drills, aside from bench press, leaving unanswered questions about his athleticism. What it comes down to for me is Foreman’s production in 2016 – one of just 13 RBs since 2000 to top 2,000 rushing yards and 15 rushing TDs in a single season. He’s a bit of a one-hit wonder, but at 23 pounds heavier and 2.5 years younger than Williams, Foreman’s upside gives him the nod.
What looked like a boat-race early on in favor of Williams turned into a victory for Foreman. While Williams certainly pops using the work done by Kevin Cole, Foreman is favored by the RB Prospect Lab due to his prodigious size and production. He moves on to face Joe Mixon in the second round. Williams goes home a loser, but will definitely be someone we are targeting later on in rookie drafts.